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Album Review: Kittie, "Funeral for Yesterday" (X of Infamy/Merovingian Music)

If there has been one constant throughout Kittie's first three albums, it's been evolution--evolution amidst a bludgeoning underbelly of death-metal palpitations. Throughout the fury, there were moments that harkened back to vintage thrash, elements of progressive-rock influence, and even uncanny instances where melody outshined their metallic bravado. Now, with "Funeral for Yesterday," Kittie makes its most pronounced evolution to date.

The group's first album since an ugly split with Artemis Records, "Funeral" boldly distances Kittie from its more rough-around-the-edges history, landing the four Canadian femme fatales high atop the learning curve that started as teenagers, with their debut release in 2000. Most notable are the ever-present melodic vocals of frontwoman Morgan Lander. She peppers the proceedings with from-the-depths-of-hell guttural growls--a la the intro to "This Too Shall Pass," as well as on the demonic flip sides of the Dimmu Borgir-flavored "Last Goodbye" and "Flower of Flesh and Blood"--but the bulk of the album rests in her higher register, a vocal comfort zone that makes the songs immensely more listenable, all while highlighting the band's developing songwriting.

"Breath" sustains a galloping pace, guitarist Lander and Tara McLeod providing an aggressive and infectious back-and-forth; "Will to Live" echoes with Iron Maiden-like reverberations beneath a savory rock chorus; and "Sweet Destruction Interlude" is (shudder) quaint and disarming. Add the said dynamics to the metal that remains a dominant force throughout--"Witch Hunt" would do Slayer proud--and the combination is lethal. If "Funeral for Yesterday" is an attempt to bury Kittie's past, rest assured that the future looks bright--with a healthy dose of bleak added for good measure.

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